Some 10 or 15 years ago Mrs. M. A. Bagby wrote a descriptive sketch of early Rushville that gives historical facts dating back to 1830, and is well worthy of being preserved for its historical worth. The article is herewith reprinted:
Thomas P. Parrott, well known as one of our oldest citizens, relates many instances of the early days of Rushville. His father, Josiah Parrott, came to our town in 1830 (one year after it was laid out and platted by Jonathan D. Manlove). Mr. Parrott was so impressed with the place, that, in 1831 he left Glasgow, Kentucky, and returned with his family to Rushville, moving into a small house on the site where Felix Jackson now lives. Mr. Parrott bought a lot, then a large pasture, and built a brick house, east of the square. It was the only house on that street. A small portion of it still stands, opposite the home of George Trone. Benj. Chadsey was just finishing the court house. Stoves and furnaces were not heard of, the only means of heating it was by making a fire in a large iron kettle which stood on the brick floor. Owen Seeley had a carpenter and undertaker’s shop on the south side of the square, where now stands the “Seeley block.” Mr. Alcott, a merchant of Rushville, wished to move to Pulaski and Mr. Parrott bought his goods, moving into a house belonging to Owen Seeley, adjoining his carpenter shop. The first boat that came up the Illinois river in 1831 brought merchandise to Mr. Parrott. Soon afterwards he built a store on the north side of the square which he occupied till his death in 1880. Joseph Campbell, the son of Alexander Campbell, who lives near town, owned a tavern, a frame house on the south side, where now stands a brick building occupied by Fred Glossop’s grocery store. Mr. Skidmore also had a tavern, a frame two story building on the site of George Dyson’s harness shop. J. G. McCreery built a large drug store on the west side of the square, which he occupied until his death in 1885. It is now replaced by the large brick building of Mrs. Emma Vedder. A two story frame house (used for offices) was burned down somewhere in the ‘Thirties, on the northwest corner of the square, where now stands the commodious brick business house of The George Little Co. Thomas Scott was a merchant on the north side, and “Drake and Penny” were on the west side. Mr. Drake was also justice of the peace. His youngest son was born in Rushville. A few years later when Edward Bertholf moved to Rushville, in 1836, and taught school the little boy became his pupil. He is now ex-governor of Iowa, and a prominent politician. Dr. Teel and Dr. Vanzandt were then physicians in Rushville, but Dr. Teel moved to Washington City and Dr. Vanzandt to St. Louis. Major Fellows lived in the house now owned by Miss Rebecca Scott. His daughter, Ann Fellows (now Mrs. Maro Farwell), was the first child born in Rushville. Miss Rhoda Ranney of Cape Girardeau, Missouri, taught the only school at that time. Dr. Adam Dunlap kept the post office in a small frame house, opposite to what is now “The Lashmett Store.”
In those days there were no side walks, the streets were full of dogfennel and jimson weed. Many friendly Indians came thru town and traded with citizens. Before Rushville was laid out there was a little Indian village on the town branch. Years afterwards children found flints and little tomahawks embedded in the soil.
One day three Indians called at Josiah Parrott’s house and remained over ngiht, had breakfast and were kindly cared for. When starting the next morning, they offered to pay for their lodging, but Mr. and Mrs. Parrott would not permit it. Bidding “good-bye” they left some money on the gate post.
There were no churches at that early day, and traveling Methodist and Presbyterian ministers held services in the court house and upstairs in Rev. John Scripps’ storeroom. Afterwards both denominations built substantial brick churches. Rev. John Scripps’ store was a frame building where now stands the two-story brick house occupied by Mr. Lickey. Mr. SCripps frequently preached in town and at “Sugar Grove” and the “Sparks” school house. He also held a Bible class upstairs for children at 3 o’clock on Sunday afternoon. They sat on wooden seats with no backs. The good minister, after scripture reading and prayer, had the class repeat in concert the first Psalm, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, not standeth in the way of sinners,” etc. Then followed a pleasant but rigorous elucidation of the lesson, and those early impressions on the young minds were remembered thru life.
The families of Samuel Hindman, J. O. Jones, John Todhunter, John B. Seeley, George Baker, Mr. Putman, Edward Doyle, John Hodge, Thomas and Asa Goodwin, Mr. Haskell, John P. Richmond, and William L. Wilson were among the earliest settlers of Rushville.
The town held an important position in the Military Tract and was considered (in its prospects) equal to Chicago and Quincy. Many people from the south and east came to seek the desired “El Dorado.” Among them (from 1836 to 1839) came Willis Carson, Abraham Tolles, Wm. Lambert, Micai Warren, George H. Scripps, L. D. Erwin, James McCrosky, Benjamin Whitson, Thomas Wilson, Wm. H. Ray, James L. Anderson, George Nelson, George Greer, David Jackson, Mr. Mitcheltree, James Little, Gilbert Ingraham, Rensselaer Wells, Joseph Montgomery, Robert Burton, Wheeler Wells, Wm. A. Hinman, William E. Ellis, Jonathan Randall, A. L. Noble, George W. Metz, Mr. Snyder and Alexander Brazleton. Also Dr. R. C. Hall, Dr. Worthington, Dr. Munroe and Dr. Rogers opened up offices and cared for the sick and ailing in Rushville and Schuyler county. All of these men were enterprising and ambitious, building up a town which they improved and appreciated. Many of their descendants are among the leading citizens of Rushville, while others have sought homes in other states.
In 1846 the bar of Rushville was represented by William Minshall, Pinckney H. Walker, John C. Bagby, William Hinman, Robert Blackwell, Daniel Berry and William Wagley.
For many long years women had to mould their own tallow candles, and for extra occasions, bought sperm and star candles. It was a great delight to all when kerosene lamps were substituted.
At this time Rushville is lighted by electricity in a majority of homes, while our streets are bright as day, on darkest nights.
What will the next century bring to our country?